Dulwich Picture Gallery I


Abraham van CALRAET

Dordrecht, 7 October 1642, baptised 12 October–Dordrecht, 11 June 1722, buried 12 June
Dutch painter of landscapes and still lifes

Abraham van Calraet was the eldest son of Pieter Jansz. van Calraet (c. 1615–80), a sculptor and woodcarver from Utrecht who had settled in Dordrecht. According to the 18th-century biographer Houbraken, he at first trained in the studio of the sculptors Aemilius and Samuel Huppe. In his youth he also learned to paint, and it is significant that his younger brother Barent Kalraet (1649–1737) was a pupil of Aelbert Cuyp (1620–91), for Abraham van Calraet’s style is close to that of Cuyp and was often mistaken for it. He took themes developed by Cuyp, most notably the horse in the stable or riding school, and made them his own. His works also reflect the influence of Philips Wouwerman (1619–68). The most original are his extremely delicate still lifes. Calraet’s work extended over some sixty years, and so far no secure chronology has been established.

In the Bourgeois collection and the early DPG catalogues Abraham van Calraet’s works were often misattributed to Cuyp. While his work is smoother and more monochromatic, the confusion was exacerbated by the two painters having the same initials: this fuelled an argument in the years 1915–19 between the Dutch art historians Abraham Bredius and Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, starting over the reattribution by Bredius of two still lifes, then attributed to Cuyp, to Calraet [1].1 While Bredius and Hofstede de Groot had attributed several of the Dulwich pictures to Calraet, it was not until after the Second World War that Calraet’s name was put forward in Dulwich publications.2 Even today problems remain. Alan Chong in his thesis of 1992 attributed four of them to Calraet,3 but in his text published in 1993 those four are downgraded, and another (DPG63) appears as a version under the ‘real’ Calraet pictures in other collections.4

In the beginning of the 19th century Calraet’s works were appreciated – be it as part of the œuvre of Aelbert Cuyp – and two of them were reproduced as aquatints by the Keeper, Ralph Cockburn (1779–1820), in his series of prints after paintings in the Dulwich Gallery. Two were lent several times to the Royal Academy to be copied by members and pupils (DPG65 and DPG71).

Van Gelder 1946; Bol 1982, pp. 14–16; Marijnissen, De Paus, Schoon & Schweitzer 1992, pp. 106–7; Chong 1992; Chong 1993; Chong 1996a; Van der Willigen & Meijer 2003, p. 59; Saur, lxxix, 2013, p. 199 (G. Seelig; as Kalraet); Dumas 2015; Ecartico no. 4202: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/4202 (as Kalraet; Dec. 9, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 14860: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/14860 (Dec. 9, 2017).

Abraham van Calraet
Still life of fruit on a table, c. 1680
canvas, oil paint 89 x 73 cm
lower left : A v Calraet
The Hague, Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen Mauritshuis, inv./cat.nr. 754


1 Bredius 1913–14; Bredius 1915–16a; Bredius & Hofstede de Groot 1915–16; Editors 1915–16; Bredius 1915–16b; Bredius 1915–16c; Editors 1916–17; Bredius 1916–17a; Bredius 1916–17b; Bredius 1917a; Bredius 1919.

2 Bredius 1919 and Hofstede de Groot 1926.

3 Chong 1992: DPG65, DPG71, DPG181 and DPG296.

4 Chong 1993, nos Calr 63 (DPG65), Calr 64 (DPG71), Calr 66 (DPG296) and Calr 65 (DPG181), and under Calr 41 (DPG63).

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